The first Washington State Food and Nutrition Council event of the year is a showing of ‘A Place at the Table’ in partnership with Food Lifeline on February 27th. The film provides information about issues around hunger relief programs in the US, and the discussion afterwards will focus on how to take action and make a difference. Nominated for the Grand Jury price at 2012 Sundance Film Festival this 84 minute family-friendly documentary seeks to spark conversation around the impact hunger has on communities across America.
Register today!
“Ultimately, A Place at the Table shows us how hunger poses serious economic, social and cultural implications for our nation, and that it could be solved once and for all, if the American public decides — as they have in the past — that making healthy food available and affordable is in the best interest of us all.”

When: Thursday February 27, 2014

Where: Seattle Distribution Center
4011 6th Avenue S Seattle, WA 98108

Doors Open: 5:30pm
Movie Starts: 6:30pm

Suggested Donation: 2 cans of food

Networking, a warehouse tour, and light snacks will be available when doors open and a brief discussion after the movie will provide an opportunity to reflect on the challenges and opportunities facing our communities.

Register today for this FREE event at Brown Paper Tickets!

See more about the film at : http://www.magpictures.com/aplaceatthetable/#sthash.ihqDdagD.dpuf


Thank those in Congress who voted to protect SNAP!

Advocacy Alert:  

The  House voted down a Farm Bill that cut SNAP by nearly $21 billion. Your advocacy efforts paid off! Thanks to you taking action, we defeated a terrible bill that would have meant the loss of SNAP benefits for thousands of low-income people here in Washington and millions across the nation!

What was framed as a bipartisan compromise despite a deep cut to SNAP, H.R. 1947, or the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act (FARRM), blew up on the House floor during two days of debate and the discussion of over 100 amendments. Amendments took this Farm Bill from bad to worse, destroying interests across the board, including dairy subsidies and crop insurance reform. But the amendment process was particularly harsh in attacks on SNAP. FARRM was amended to include mandatory drug testing for SNAP applicants, a lifetime ban from benefits for certain individuals convicted of felonies even if they had completed prison sentences for their crimes, and a provision that would allow states to take money from household SNAP benefits and put it to other uses such as building roads or other non-nutrition assistance services.

But the worst amendment added to FARRM would have imposed a work requirement on all SNAP recipients, regardless of their ability to find work, that was passed without any allocation of funding to states to provide work training or other services to help low-income individuals find and keep a job. This amendment was also added, ignoring the fact that most SNAP recipients who are able to work, do work and that the majority of SNAP recipients are seniors, children, and people with disabilities who are unable to work.

In the end, many moderate members who had gone into the floor debate as a yes vote could not vote for such a harsh attack on families in need. WSFNC and AHNC thanks the Congressional representatives who protected SNAP by voting against this bill and will continue to work on educating members about the provisions needed in a Farm Bill that creates a sustainable food system-one that helps all of us by helping our smaller, sustainable farms and addresses hunger by protecting and strengthening SNAP. 

This doesn't mean that the fight to protect SNAP in the Farm Bill is over.  We still need this comprehensive legislation that guides our nation's spending on nutrition programs, conservation efforts, and farming industries. Funding for these programs will expire when the current one-year extension of the Farm Bill ends on September 30.  

If Congress has not developed a Farm Bill compromise by that time, then we can expect them to pass another continuing resolution to keep funding for these programs at current levels while they work to find an agreement.

Take Action:
Please thank Washington's Congressional members who protected SNAP!


Please call or email the following members of Washington's Congressional delegation and thank them for standing up for hungry families by voting against H.R. 1947. This is especially important to do if you live or work in one of their districts.

District 1: Rep. Suzan DelBene
District 6: Rep. Derek Kilmer
District 7: Rep. Jim McDermott
District 9: Rep. Adam Smith
District 10: Rep. Denny Heck   


Source: Washington State Anti-Hunger and Nutrition Coalition: http://www.wsahnc.org/


 Second Special Session in Olympia:

With Washington's House and Senate unable to come to agreement on a wide range of policy and budget issues, the special session ended with no budget. Gov. Inslee immediately called a second special session - the state is required to start its new year on July 1 with a balanced budget so the Legislature will be working up to the very end of the year.   

Last week, the state's quarterly economic forecast was released.
News of an additional $234 million in revenue and lower program costs due to a drop in caseload gave Washington lawmakers hope that a budget agreement may be made shortly. Nonetheless, analysts believe that we still have a $1 billion revenue shortfall to make up in order to make court-mandated improvements to our basic education system and pay for existing needs for services.  

Time is starting to run short: with no budget agreement achieved over the weekend, layoff notices went out to certain state government employees today and we risk a government shutdown if no budget is in place by the end of the fiscal year on June 30.

Gov. Inslee released a list of possible program suspensions that could take effect in the case of a government shutdown, including the State Food Assistance Program that is entirely state funded to provide food stamp assistance to legally residing immigrants who are ineligible for SNAP under federal law. Essentially all services that are non-essential  due to federal requirements and are state-funded risk suspension until we have a budget that determines how we pay for those services. This means that SNAP payments and eligibility would remain untouched but that many state-funded services that help low-income families, seniors, and people with disabilities could be at risk of suspension in the event of a government shutdown. Lead budget negotiators have been meeting throughout the weekend and believe that they are close but there are still some sticking points over a couple of policy bills (including a refusal to invest state dollars in teacher pay raises beyond cost of living rates) and financing sources. We will continue to provide updates as needed.

Take Action
Contact your state legislators and the Governor:  Let your legislators know you support a budget that closes tax loopholes to fund education and critical services for hungry families. Vote YES on revenue options that will help our state now and into the future.

Find your legislator here.

by WSFNC Webmaster on May 9th, 2013

Farm Bill is coming & Speak up on State budget before Special Session begins- Updates from the Anti-Hunger and Nutrition Coalition.

The Farm Bill & Congress members:
Both the House and Senate are planning to mark up new versions of the Farm Bill - the Senate may begin this week - so let's get going (again)!  

Neither the Senate nor House versions of the Farm Bill passed in the full Congress last year; with November's elections, it's a new Congress so they must begin again. The Farm Bill includes SNAP (food stamps, or Basic Food), TEFAP and CSFP (food for food banks) and Farmers Market Nutrition Program for Seniors.  

It's time for a new Congress to start with a fresh Farm Bill that makes no cuts in programs that feed hungry families, especially SNAP.

  For information about sustainable agriculture issues in the Farm Bill, please check out our partners' priorities at Washington State Farmers Market Assoc. and Washington Sustainable Food & Farming Network.

What to know about the Senate:
  • The Senate Agriculture Committee will release their draft bill any day now.  Last Congress's Senate Farm Bill cut $4.3 billion from SNAP by cutting the 'Heat and Eat' option. In Washington, that equals big cuts in food stamp benefits to more than a quarter million families, only adding to Washington's hunger problem. We estimate 234,000 households will get $90 less (average) on their EBT cards for groceries each month if Congress eliminates this option.   
  • This spring Committee chair Sen. Stabenow has made public comments that indicate she may be willing to give up food stamp benefits for certain low-income households.  We think that's the wrong answer, and both our Senators agree: Sen. Cantwell - along with one-third of all Senators - signed Sen. Gillibrand's (NY) letter in support of SNAP funding; Sen. Murray, as Senate Majority leadership, has also been strongly supportive of no cuts to food stamps in the Farm Bill or the budget.

What to know about the House:
  • The House Agriculture Committee will release a Farm Bill proposal after the Senate - maybe in the next 2 weeks. Last Congress created a House Farm Bill so controversial it never came to a vote because it cut $16.5 billion from SNAP.
  • In addition to cutting 'Heat and Eat', last year the House also eliminated 'Categorical Eligibility' - mostly working poor families with children and seniors on fixed incomes would be cut off food stamps altogether. We estimate 88,000 households in Washington would no longer have any SNAP benefits.
  • Yet some House members have been saying they would like to cut more this year: up to $20 billion from SNAP. Because this is much higher than last year, details on those cuts are not clear until the House releases its proposal soon.  

 What is clear - no Farm Bill would be better than one that cuts SNAP.
 

What to do now: Take Action
In the 14th hungriest state in the country, with demand at food banks up 35% and further state and local cuts to the safety net expected, Washington families deserve for a new Congress to start with a fresh Farm Bill that makes no cuts in SNAP.

Spend 3 minutes thinking about 2 clients (or students or patients or friends) that you know SNAP benefits helped in some way. What improved for them? How did it make a difference? What would happen if they soon had $90 less - or all their SNAP was gone?

Ask your Congress member (via phone, fax, email) to protect and strengthen SNAP. Make this contact to your lawmakers personal - explain how important SNAP has been to those 2 clients. Ask them to reject SNAP cuts, whether those are included in a 2013 Farm Bill or other legislative vehicles in the new Congress.

Thank Sen. Cantwell, Reps. McDermott, Smith and now Heck for signing letter/ co-sponsoring support of SNAP funding. Urge other House Members to co-sponsor H. Res. 90.   



 Washington State Update!
Olympia: Closing Tax Loopholes and Funding Services
After 105 days of session, legislators are facing off in overtime over one high-stakes question: What's a higher priority: preserving tax loopholes that don't serve the public interest, or ample funding for education and saving critical services that help ensure families don't go hungry?

 Legislators are in the middle of two weeks of critical budget negotiations that will determine the direction of our budget and our state. There is only one way to move them to support our agenda: pressure from their constituents. Now is the time to flood legislator's inboxes with support for a budget that puts our kids and our communities first.


Take Action:
Print the attached plate with our priorities, add a personal message, and send to your legislator before special session begins on May 13. 

When you contact your legislators, ask them: PLEASE close costly tax loopholes!

The House and Senate have passed two very different budgets.
  • The Senate budget doesn't close a single tax loophole. It makes inadequate investments in education and does so at the expense of many critical safety services.
  • The House budget, by comparison, takes the approach recommended by Gov. Inslee to make a substantial investment in education and most critical services by closing tax loopholes and extending parts of the 2010 revenue package.
The House budget isn't perfect - they need to increase funding for State Food Assistance at least as much as the Senate budget does. But the House takes the right approach of tax reform and reflects our value of putting the people of Washington before costly tax loopholes.

Let your legislators know you support a budget that closes tax loopholes to fund education and critical services for hungry families.

Find your legislator here.


The Legislature adjourned Sunday night, marking the end of the regular 105 day legislative session, without a budget deal. This was a "long" session (105 days) when lawmakers write the 2013-2015 biennial Operating Budget, but the big differences between the Senate's budget proposal and the House proposal (about $1 Billion difference) mean the Governor had to call a special session to finish the work. This year most legislators went home following the end of the regular session but the finance and budget committee members kept working.  The remaining legislators are set to return May 13th to begin the special session, which could last up to 30 days. 

All this means our job isn't done: we need to keep in touch with those budget writers to make sure they're still fighting for our priorities to feed hungry people. They need robust tax reform and new revenue to comply with the Supreme Court's McCleary ruling for more funding for education AND for the programs that all Washingtonians need to survive and thrive.

WSFNC, along with other anti-hunger and nutrition advocates are pushing for:
  • Funding at least the Senate's proposal of 75% benefit levels for State Food Assistance;
  • Funding for WSDA's Farm to School/Small Farms Programs;
  • Added funding for Emergency Food Assistance Program; and
  • New revenue and tax reforms to make our budget process work better - now and in the future.
Revenue Update:
The big fight will be over the issue of new revenue.  The conservative Senate Majority Coalition has taken a, “No New Taxes,” position, while the more liberal Democrat controlled House and the Governor have been advocating for additional revenue through tax extensions and closing tax loopholes. 

Last week, the House Finance Committee passed a revenue bill (substitute HB 2038) that was a reduction from the original proposal in the House budget - it raises about $900 million in new revenue, down from almost $1.3 billion. The House Committee also passed Senate Bill 5843, which creates a process for review and/or expiration dates for tax exemptions or preferences. In plain terms: just as the Legislature regularly reviews its spending (via annual budgeting), it will also regularly review each of its tax exemptions (at least every 10 years), so our tax code keeps up with current times.

Take Action:
Though House and Senate Budget negotiators will be in Olympia, many legislators will be in the district offices. This is a great opportunity to meet with your representatives when they are in your neighborhood. Click this link to locate the contact information for both of your House Representatives and your Senator!

References:
Washington State Anti-Hunger and Nutrition Coalition- http://www.wahnc.org/
Washington State Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics- http://www.eatrightwashington.org/
The Olympian: Under the Dome- http://www.theolympian.com/underthedome/
WSFNC President, Breanna S. Oberlin, MS, RD, CD, (Center) with Senator Ed Murray of the 43rd District on Hunger Action Day in Olympia, February 22rd, 2013.

by WSFNC Webmaster on April 23rd, 2013

Advocate for Anti-Hunger and Nutrition Programs in Washington State

This is the time - ask your Senators and Representatives to fully fund vital hunger relief programs. Please take just a few minutes to call or email your legislators and urge them to fully fund these programs in the final budget.

To email to your legislators and key committee members, click here.

Want to make a phone call but don't know how to contact your legislators? Find out how to get in touch with them here. Not sure what to say?

Here is suggested messaging:
For House members: "Thank you for increasing revenue in the House budget proposal, and closing outdated tax loopholes. However, I'm concerned about the limited investment in hunger relief programs. Without additional funds for the Emergency Food Assistance Program, and restoration of State Food Assistance and Farm to School and Small Farms Programs, hungry families and kids in Washington will continue to struggle. Please work to ensure these programs are fully funded in the final budget."

For Senate members:
"Thank you for taking steps to invest in our hunger relief system in the proposed Senate budget. However, there were no additional funds allocated for the Emergency Food Assistance Program, which has not seen an increase in funding since 2008, and as emergency food providers continue to face record need. I would also urge you to raise revenue in order to fully fund these key programs in the final budget."

Source Food Lifeline- www.foodlifeline.org

by WSFNC Webmaster on April 23rd, 2013

Washington State House and Senate Budget Proposals

Budget Overview
Senate budget: What's in (restoring some funding for some AHNC priorities) and what's out (closing tax loopholes, sufficient revenue, and basic needs program support)

House budget: Makes NO progress toward restoring equal State Food Assistance benefits. It also takes the same small but insufficient step forward for our local farms and schoolkids. There is no increase in funding for local food banks. 


Budget Proposal Details:
House Budget (Release April 10th):
Overall, the House budget proposal makes far fewer cuts than the Senate proposal in part because the House proposal includes new revenue by closing outdated tax loopholes. This is incredibly important progress toward a more fair and equitable budget. We applaud House members for finally tackling tax reform in smart ways.

Yet, on the critical issue of feeding hungry people, it falls short. It fails to correct the terrible injustice that was done to children and families when State Food Assistance was cut in half. It funds a tiny portion of what's needed to grow and serve healthy food to students and families. It doesn't help local food banks.  

But this is just the proposal. We are going to work fast to try and get the funds added through an amendment. If we work together, we have a better chance of being successful.  

Senate Budget (Released April 3rd, 2013):

Revenue:
We all need to talk to our Senators about revenue. We stand in strong support for the need to find revenue to help Washington pay for existing need for services and meet its duty of improving basic education under the McCleary decision. We can't look at education or services in isolation-hungry kids in crisis can't learn.

The Legislature, including the Senate, should keep all revenue options on the table, but we believe in the following principles:
  • Find new sources of revenue because our existing system is primarily based on the retail sales tax at local establishments. It's regressive and has diminishing returns each year - it's not a solution for the Washington of today or tomorrow.
  • Close wasteful and unnecessary tax loopholes and exemptions. Gov. Inslee's proposal starts us on the right path to help ensure improvements to basic education while investing in critical supports to help low-income families. The Senate maintains tax exemptions for oil companies, pharmaceutical makers and luxury vehicle owners - the Governor didn't.
  • Reform our tax code and improve tax fairness for low and moderate income Washingtonians who are currently paying a disproportionately high amount of their incomes in taxes, yet are losing out on more and more of the critical state supports that they need to meet basic needs. Gov. Inslee's budget can pay for child care for working families, smaller class sizes in schools, and lifeline services for low-income kids and homeless people. The Senate budget can't pay for these things because it doesn't fix our tax code.

State Food Assistance:
The Senate budgets $9.4 million for State Food Assistance - this increases the food stamp benefit level from its current 50% of federal (SNAP) benefits to 75% of federal benefit levels. We are glad to see that the strong showing by legislators signing onto our letter of support for SFA encouraged the Senate to reinvest in this critical program.

Yet a majority of Senators wanted full restoration, and this budget continues to fall short for the thousands of kids, parents and elders that need a full plate every day - not ¾ of a plate.

Emergency Food Assistance Program:
The Senate budget funds EFAP at $5.3 million per year - no increase in funding. We used to say that cuts to SFA mean that more people will be at the food bank's door, but those families are already customers.

Food stamps are - and should remain - our first line of defense against hunger. But as long as benefits still fall short for an adequate food budget, families have to rely on both food stamps and food banks. To really fight hunger, we need to strengthen both systems of support.

Farm to School / Small Farms Programs:
The Senate budget finally reflects that these programs are important to Washington and invests state general funds back into the programs - at $250,000 for the biennium.

Yet the proposed budget for both these programs at $250,000 over the next 2 years is not sufficient. It's estimated that this would reduce the previous staffing of 4.5 staff for both programs to only 1 staff member for both.

 Combined, WSDA's two programs have had a major impact on ensuring a healthy, vibrant local agriculture economy and healthy schoolkids by pairing local growers with local buyers, including schools. We applaud the effort by the Senate to put some state funds back into these critical programs - but they can fulfill both their mission and their promise better if funded at the level advocates and more than 60 legislators have asked for: $500,000 for the biennium.

School Meal Programs and Farmers Market Nutrition Program for WIC & Seniors
No cuts

Other safety net programs:
The investments in our food system will be undermined by cuts to critical support services. Slashing programs for low-income families like TANF/WorkFirst and Disability Lifeline and Working Connections mean less income to buy food. Hunger will continue to rise and the need for food assistance programs will deepen. The Senate needs to make a stronger stand to reform taxes and generate revenue to pay for the most basic needs.

 Without comprehensive change to our tax system, we're pitting one part of the safety net against other critical public services.

Source: Anti-Hunger and Nutrition Coalition- http://www.wsahnc.org/


by Legislative Chair on July 30th, 2012

The 2012 Farm Bill is in full swing!

On June 22nd the Senate passed a version of the bill, the Agriculture Reform, Food, and Jobs Act (S3240). The bill contains cuts to SNAP ($4.5 billion) but preserves funding for other important nutrition assistance and nutrition education programs including SNAP-ED, the Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program, and the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program. Though any cut to SNAP funding is a disappointment, the proposed cuts from the Senate version are less than that in the House version.

The House version of the bill, the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act of 2012 (HR 6083), was passed out of the House Agriculture Committee July 12th. The bill includes over $16 billion in cuts to SNAP over the next 10 years and another $6 billion in cuts to important conservation programs.

The House has yet to vote on HR 6083. If the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act is passed, a joint conference committee to negotiate a compromise between the bills will be convened. The Farm Bill is set to expire September 30th, 2012.

The Washington State Food and Nutrition Council continues to work hard to ensure nutrition assistance and education programs are preserved. You can read the Farm Bill Recommendation developed by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics LCCP work group here. While we continue to work on your behalf, your representative needs to hear from you! Contact them today to let them know how important these programs are. It's as simple as calling 1-877-698-8228 to be connected to your representatives' office.

by Nominating Chair on July 11th, 2012

Thank you for your continued support of WSFNC as a member!  Are you interested in getting more involved with the council?  Would you like to help plan and attend the WSFNC annual conference?  Are you looking for more networking opportunities with the nutrition field and to build connections with nutrition professionals across Washington State?

Elections for next years board are right around the corner and we are currently recruiting for the following positions:  President, Conference Planning Chair, 2 Conference Planning Committee Members, Secretary, Nominating Chair, and 2 At Large Board Members.  Descriptions of these positions can be found in our Bylaws.

If you are interested in any of these positions or know someone who is please send your nominations to Danielle Selden at Danielle.selden@bastyr.edu by July 20th.

by Legislative Chair on July 10th, 2012

As many of you have heard, the House released their version of the Farm Bill last week, and the cuts to SNAP are drastic.  The House bill (called FARRM) reduces spending by $35 billion over the next decade --- almost half of these spending cuts (45%) come from SNAP: $16.5 billion in cuts.  Conservative estimates are that almost 2 million people would lose SNAP benefits every year; some estimate the number would be much higher. 

In Washington State, the proposed changes to categorical eligibility, LIHEAP and other provisions, would have devastating impacts on the progress our state has made in improving the efficiency and effectiveness of our food stamp program. These provisions mean that our seniors and working families would be disproportionately impact; it also means 280,000 Washington kids would lose access to free school meals. 

ACTION: Call your Representative in Congress on TUESDAY, JULY 10 with the message “No SNAP Cuts/Hunger Hurts.”  Use the toll-free number [1-877-698-8228] sponsored by FRAC and Feeding America for Tuesday’s National Call-in Day.

ACTION: Publish this message on your networks’ Facebook pages & websites, Tweet about it, publicize it to your colleagues and friends --- spread the word and reach House members on Tues, July 10.

For more info about the House FARRM Bill:
House Committee on Agriculture – bill summary here
Center on Budget and Policy Priorities - analysis here